Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Beneficiaries: Járókelő is the Hungarian translation for “passer-by”, it refers to any citizen who is walking by and can be able not only to see an urban problem or malfunction, but also to report it in an easy and efficient way. Other group of beneficiaries are the local governments and other service providers (e.g. public transport companies). Járókelő has now more than 40 volunteers, mainly from the younger generation. There are monthly meetings for the volunteer administrators/ case managers.The association developed a volunteer recruiting and selection process in 2018.
Járókelő created a fully citizen-centric and community driven internet-based service to strengthen active citizenship, democratic participation, and improve urban management. Járókelő is a mediator between civilians and authorities, so basically it created a new process for collecting and sending complaints, which had an impact on the whole system of fixing street problems. The employees of local municipalities tend to use their map application on the jarokelo.hu website. There are some local governments that indicate jarokelo.hu for citizens as their official forum of reporting street problems.
Digital Transformation Process
The innovation Járókelő realized is complex and practice-based (bricolage). The solution included not only the internet platform, but a process design, knowledge base, marketing and organisational innovation. By its digital solution Járókelő partly substituted prior co-production practices as well as some of the functions of the public organisations. Technology can enable citizen engagement. Platforms like Járókelő and others are tools that can have a positive impact on strengthening democratic institutions, transparency, accountability and foster public participation in public life. Járókelő functions as a bridge between citizens and local authorities in the common need to solve immediate problems in the built environment. As most of the problems reported are easy to fix, local governments can easily give a positive response to citizens.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Járókelő has grown considerably over the years since it started, nowadays it has reached around 20.000 visitors per month and registers 30 to 50 complaints per day in Budapest alone. Jarokelo has more than 9.000 registered users and more than 25.000 cases solved (as May 2019, approx. 2/3 of the reported cases are sold). Járókelő is often a „speeding lane”, so problem reporters experience quicker response. The positive experience encourages citizens to make further reports. Citizens monitor each other’s report, transparency is growing. The whole venture has not only grown in terms of the number of visits and reports but also in terms of the number of locations in Hungary such as Debrecen, Kecskemét, Veszprém, Szeged and Szentendre, cities that have joined the system. When the platform was launched, municipalities were unprepared for such an engagement, did not fully understand the platform and how it could be beneficial for them. As many of the municipalities lack the capacity of innovation to make their services more efficient and user-friendly, Járókelő can provide a platform that helps their work. Therefore, similarly to many other civic tech platforms, Járókelő can create a win-win scenario, building up trust between local governments and citizens, and improving public spaces. Nowadays Járókelő is more and more accepted as a trusted partner by public service providers.
Challenges & Bottlenecks
Creating the financial background of the association is the biggest risk ever since Járókelő is functioning. Financial resources come from donor organisations (for-profit companies). The Association can plan their budget and operation only year after year. There is a slight risk that the government may introduce a one-stop notification system regarding public complaints, and this way Járókelő could lose its mediator role between civilians and authorities. There is also a little risk, that thanks to technological developments the local governments will have more and more user friendly ways of communication, so Járókelő’s platform may be superfluous. There is also a risk of emerging competitors e.g. a Swedish company trading with crowdsourced online streetmaps. Cooperation with most local governments and public service providers is well-functioning, but cooperation with local authorities has not always been easy. In many cases, municipal offices have been reluctant to cooperate with Járókelő. It really depends on the actual place and the people working in these offices.
Transferability & Replicability
The system can easily adapt to other Hungarian cities. Járókelő plans to develop its system to other Hungarian cities as well, for this they would need other paid coordinators, who could keep the contact with the volunteer case managers on the countryside. So the plan is to increase incomes in order to be able to finance new full-time employees.
Institutional factor: obligation for co-production on part of the public organisations is coded in Act CLXV of 2013 (dealing with complains and public interest disclosures). Even though in Hungary the Act CLXV 2013 deals with complaints and public interest, each city and district deals with them in a different way because the regulations of how to deal with those issues are actually made locally. Járókelő has now more than 40 volunteers, mainly from the younger generation (between 16 and 43 years). They work as web developer and case manager. The volunteers are typically students, free-lancers, have jobs with flexible schedule. The Association has a well-developed volunteer recruiting and selection process. The IT system is constantly developed and the website is easy-to-use.
Digital technologies can substitute traditional co-production practices (e.g. remote monitoring or predictive algorithms). The platform of Járókelő provides an easy-to-use technology for citizens, where the reporting users can track and monitor the problem solving process. Furthermore digital technologies can eliminate public sector organisations from co-production (e.g. self-serving communities). The citizens do not need to know which organisation (local authority or a public service provider) is competent to solve a given problem. This knowledge is provided by the Járókelő.hu.